Gambrel type economical house plans

I will also briefly cover another type of roof that is among the economical house plans. It’s more economical because of the increased living space it offers and the inexpensive design. Roof types really make a difference in the overall cost of a home.

Gambrel type roofs are making a come back because they make so much sense. It is a barn shaped roof that has a lot of living space under it in the form of a loft or even an upstairs.

If you think about it, you need to have a roof no matter what. So a gambrel house gives you a second floor and almost doubles your square footage, at about the same cost as a single floor home.

Remember, an important part of the appraisal process of a home is how many square feet it has. It will usually be compared to similar homes in the neighborhood with the same amount of square footage. A single floor home with the same amount of square footage as a Gambrel home, will be more expensive to build, yet will have about the same value.

When I built my home, the decision was easy to make. I decided to go up, not out for extra square footage. I needed to build a home that was nice, but at the same time affordable, so it really was a no brainer.

barn house

Gambrel roofed homes do have a few setbacks though. They are kind of ugly. They really do look like a barn and a lot of people take offense to “being raised in a barn”.

The upstairs walls are also sloped and it is difficult to hang things on the walls. Dressers and cabinets need to be put on interior walls. That’s something to think about.

gambrel trusses

I have always preferred function over form and it has rewarded me well every single time. This style of house is just about as easy to build as a single floor house.

That’s one of the reasons it’s part of the affordable house plans. The roof trusses are obviously very different from W-type trusses.

In a Gambrel house, the roof pitch is a combination of two slopes at the pitch and at the knee. If a load-bearing wall runs up the middle to support the roof, a steeper slope can be used to provide a little more living space upstairs.

If the upstairs is open with no partitions, then an angle of 90° between the two combined angles has to be made. This is a bit confusing but it is really quite easy to do.

roof truss

As illustrated above, a 30/60 slope isn’t difficult. It can just about be attained by guesswork alone. It is important to distribute the weight from the ridge to the knee. Also a collar beam will be necessary and it will help relieve pressure from the sides of the roof.

Most gambrel houses have dormers to help improve the looks from the outside and to provide a view and sunlight on the inside. Dormers are really quite necessary for gambrel roofs, otherwise things get kind of dark on the inside and it might seem rather cramped and stuffy.


Dormers can be attached to either the side or the top of the roof. The angles can get a little tricky but with a carpenters square and maybe even an angle finder, the job goes quickly and makes a big difference in the overall appearance of the house.

dormer construction

Here you have the inside view looking out at the dormer and the outside view looking in.Next, you’ll need to do the gable end framing to enclose the roof and sides of the top floor.This picture below gives a good idea of one way to frame gable ends.


In areas where heavy snow and ice form, a Gambrel roof is a good choice because of the strength. If you have any doubts, you might want to reinforce the knee with support braces. A simple 2×4 works just fine fastened with mending plates or plywood with small nails.

On the right, you can see the knee without reinforcements. On the left, the knees have been reinforced on each side with 2X6’s. The angle on these knees are not within code because of the weak pitch; however this roof will have a dividing support wall to brace the rafters up bringing it into code.

barn trusses

It’s easy to see why gambrel roofs are a part of how to build an affordable house.

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